Quantitative approaches to studying NK cell functional heterogeneity
2014 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
It is commonly stated that the cell is the smallest functional unit of life. By analogy, then, the immune cell is the smallest functional unit of the immune system. Natural killer (NK) cells are effector cells of the innate immune system that are responsible for mediating cellular cytotoxicity against virally infected or neoplastically transformed cells. Many phenotypically distinct subpopulations of NK cells have been discovered, usually by dividing cells on the basis of cell-surface markers. These subpopulations are typically described as related to activation or developmental status of the cells. However, how these distinct phenotypes correlate with behavior in e.g. NK–target interactions is less widely understood. There is therefore a need to study NK cell behavior down at the single-cell level. The aim of this thesis is to approach methods that quantitatively describe these single-cell-level behavioral differences of NK cells.
Using a newly developed single-cell imaging and screening assay, we trap small populations of NK and target cells inside microwells, where they can be imaged over extended periods of time. We have performed experiments on both resting and IL-2-activated NK cells and quantified their cytotoxic behavior. One major discovery was that a small population of NK cells mediate a majority of the cytotoxicity directed against target cells. A particularly cytotoxic group of cells, which we termed “serial killers”, displayed faster and more effective cytotoxicity.
Also, we identified differences between resting and activated NK cells in regard to their migration and contact dynamics. Activated NK cells were found to more readily adhere to targets cells than did NK cells freshly isolated from peripheral blood. Apart form migration and contact dynamics, we have also quantified killing behavior, where NK cells can be seen to exhibit a behavior we term multiple lytic hits on the basis of analyzing target cell fluorescence profiles.
We have quantified these heterogeneities and developed tools that can be used to further study and elucidate differences in the behavior of single immune cells. These methods, and automated single-cell analysis methods, will likely play a more important role in the study of immune responses in the future.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. , xiii, 35 p.
TRITA-FYS, ISSN 0280-316X ; 2014:21
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-146281ISBN: 978-91-7595-166-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-146281DiVA: diva2:723534
2014-05-27, sal Air, Gamma, Science for Life Laboratory, Science for Life Laboratory, Solna, 13:00 (English)
Achour, Adnane, Docent
Önfelt, Björn, Universitetslektor
QC 201406112014-06-112014-06-112014-06-11Bibliographically approved
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